You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Please Raise Your Hand If I'm Offending You

Yes, that's what I'm asking. And I do want to know.
There are a number of ways to look at this.

Is practicing tzniut for Lent offensive to Jews? Just Orthodox Jews? Just Orthodox Jewish women?
Is practicing tzniut for Lent offensive to Christians? Just Christians who follow Christian modesty rules? If so, which kinds? All of them?
Is wearing a hijab offensive to all Muslims? Muslim women?
Is wearing a hijab offensive to Christians?

Ways people besides me might look at this: (let me know if I've missed any)

1) Closer to the One True Truth
If you believe that yours is the one true truth (ie. that Islam and nothing else is right or that Orthodox Judaism and nothing else is right) then surely it is better for me to get one thing right than nothing right. This was a prominent belief in Senegal. *Sidy* or whomever believes that Islam is the one true truth. He wishes the whole world was Muslim. He would love it if I, personally, converted to Islam. One day, I show up wearing a hijab. *Sidy* grins. He knows I'm not Muslim, because maybe he saw me at the bar the other night or whatever, but he'll applaud me, saying it's better that I do one thing right than nothing.

2) Appropriating Someone's Culture
If you believe that tzniut (or Orthodox Judaism or hijab or Islam) is a cultural thing, then obviously, taking things from it when I don't fully understand it would be hugely offensive and also awkward for me. It'd be like the people walking around with the giant Chinese word for "joy" on their back. It may or may not be Chinese and it may or may not mean "joy" but the fact that I'm walking around without knowing that would be offensive to Chinese-speaking people and awkward for me (even though I don't know it).

3) Denying My Own Religion
If you believe a) that Christianity has a mandate to not follow tzniut rules or hijab or what-have-you or b) that one cannot use aspects of another faith to deepen one's own faith-- that this amounts to a denial of the faith, then I could see some Christians being offended at my claim to be Christian. Check out this little upheaval for more ideas.

4) Truth in Advertising
This would require that you believed 2 things: 1) that practicing modesty or headcovering or whatever advertises something besides modesty or headcovering (ie. that wearing a hijab advertises being a Muslim) and 2) that since it advertises this, it must be inherently wrong to practice this if you are also advertising behaviors that you believe inconsistent with it (ie. it is wrong to drink alcohol in a hijab whether or not one is Muslim).

5) Enriching My Spiritual Practice
I'm learning about other people's religions and deepening my own in the process. To me, it seems to provide me with an opportunity (as a nerdy, overly fashion-conscious, religious college student) to combine my nerdiness (the research) my fashion issues (the clothes) and my religion (the prayer) into one Lenten discipline.

6) What About Christian Modesty?
This would mean that because my Lenten discipline uses tzniut guidlines or because I wear a hijab (occasionally), I've turned up my nose at Christian modesty practices-- such as going by Plain or Mormon standards or something like that.

7) You Can't be a Lesbian and Religious! Especially Not Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Zoroastrian!
This means assuming that queer people can't be in XYZ religion. Then, you assume that my *being* Christian or using Jewish standards to define modesty or wearing a hijab is offensive to someone, somewhere because I'm queer and they don't let queer people in that club. With all of that, you're endorsing that they have a right to be offended by my sexual orientation, which is legitimizing homophobia.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feminism and Clothes and Orthodox Judaism, Oh My!

This isn't really a real post, but mostly just a giant arrow pointing to Nina's most recent post at Check it out here!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Headcoverings, again!

So, I've been covering my head most of the time lately. Saturday evening, though, I curled my hair for a 50's-themed party and it held so well through Sunday that I thought I'd go with my head uncovered. Well, I was fine with it teaching Sunday School, but when it came time to go into the sanctuary, I just really felt much better with my head covered, so I threw a scarf over it.

Later that evening, I went to my other church with my head uncovered and, while I managed, I really would have felt much more comfortable covered. This has little to do with my church community-- no one in my later church covers for sure and I'm reasonably certain no one in my early church covers either.

My rationale is not the typical reason Christian women cover their hair-- as a sign of submission to men as the head of the church/household/relationship with God/etc. My motivation is similar, I think, to why Orthodox Jewish men cover their heads-- I want a reminder that God is always above me. God is in control.

Now, I have a pretty decent collection of scarves and a hat or two, but I want a default one for church-- so if I don't have a scarf that "goes" with my outfit for the day, I can just grab my default scarf and not get caught up in the fashion-craziness of it. (But I don't plan on restricting myself to just my default scarf, so if I do have that perfect one that "goes," I can wear that too.)

The question is: what should my default church covering look like?

Initially, I thought basic would be good, since it is my "default" covering.
Like the chapel veils that some of the more orthodox Catholic women wear.  The one to the right here is by Lady in Blue on Etsy. However, my Woman is a recovering ex-Catholic and I don't want my "default" to be something that freaks the daylights out of her...

Another good basic would be like this one to the left. I don't know who wears these, but I do see girls around campus wearing them (or ones like them) occasionally. Anyone know? This one in particular is from Also, how do these stay on? I don't know what they're called, so I can't google it.

On the other hand, since my whole life seems to shock people (it seems lesbians can't be religious, let alone as theologically conservative as I am), I'm tempted to make my "basic" something with a giant rainbow on it. The one below is from Total Thread Head on Etsy.
Now, part of me says, "Wow. That's way too ostentatious" and you might agree with me. On the other hand, you must remember: I'm Episcopalian. The head of our church, Katherine Jefferts Schori (who by the way, is a really awesome person and Presiding Bishop) wears things like this:
Courtesy of
Obviously, you can't look too ostentatious for an Episcopalian church. Obviously.

Anyway, so the rainbow headcovering is not out of the picture, but I'm trying to find the one, you know? Suggestions are encouraged.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Modesty Stereotypes

So as a reward for myself, sometime last week I bought myself a hijab from It is beautiful! I wore it with this cute v-neck sweater I have that has pretty detail around the neckline. That way, I could tuck the hijab into my sweater neckline and still be covering my collarbones.

This was Friday, I think, and my Woman and I decided we wanted to go out to our local gay bar, the Aut. Well, so we walked there holding hands (which is the usual for us, but one of us is not typically wearing a hijab) and didn't seem to cause any traffic accidents. Yay! Better yet, when we got to the Aut, no one batted an eyelid. Mind you, we're there a lot. So perhaps they just know I'm weird and it doesn't cause any confusion any more? :)

The next day, we went out to breakfast. And yes, I was wearing the same outfit-- whoever knew I'd be doing the walk of shame in a hijab! Anyway, we go out to eat at Sava's, which has wonderful food, but we got the funniest stares the whole time! Clearly, we were astounding a few people-- what looked like a conservative Muslim woman kissing another woman! Quelle choque!

It seems people think that a hijab is much like the proverbial lesbian toaster. Guys, you can buys hijabs online for like $10... or just learn to fold a scarf like one if  you already have scarves. There's no secret handshake you have to learn, I promise.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prayer Times

So, when I started this, I figured I'd be most likely to pray when I was hot and sweaty or freezing cold. Truly, though, I pray most when I'm trying to figure out what to wear for the day (or for an event). While I'm flinging things around my room trying to find a shirt, a shell and a skirt (and often a headcovering) that all match, I freak out... and then remember to pray. Often, I'm in such a state that the only thing I can remember to pray is the prayer one of my priests announced in my first Lent as an official Episcopalian: "Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I don't know how common a prayer that is-- but for me it epitomizes my prayers during Lent. I repeat it over and over until slowly I realize that clothes are the least of my worries.

I am dust, after all. My death is looming. And I'm a sinner. Thank goodness I don't have to earn redemption-- I'd never make it. It brings me full force into the reality of how badly I need Christ.

Needless to say, I think every once-in-a-while, my Lenten discipline achieves its goal: I remember that there are things that are much more important than clothes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Modest Swimsuits?

Finding the right swimsuit can be a disaster for any woman, not just women who are following religious modesty standards.

So I'm going to have a little fun here and talk about what many denominations think are modest swimsuits! For whatever reason, when I started researching modesty, I found a lot of swimsuit websites. Now, I've always been uncomfortable wearing my swimsuit --even after I reached the point where I very much like my body and think it's attractive. I just think there are parts of my body that not everyone gets to see and my tankini doesn't cover it for me. Now that I know other people feel the same, I think it gives me a little mental leverage for me to make my own swimming experience a whole lot more fun. I'm certainly not saying these are for everyone (and many of them are not even viable for me), but it's an interesting perspective.

For starters: A tzniut swimsuit.
For tzniut women going swimming in front of men, all of the rules still apply. Cover your collarbones, elbows and knees. Wear a skirt. Don't wear things that are skin-tight. Since wearing a knee-length shirt and a baggy shirt is very difficult to swim in, most tzniut women (or so it seems to me) choose to swim in women-only pools. Probably sensible. Imagine trying to swim in this:
It's cute. But if you were going to do any real moving in deep water, it would be difficult.
I looked at that and felt better. There were other people in the world who wanted to be more covered up when they swam! Mind you, unless it's during Lent, I would prefer wearing less than that, so I continued on.
Muslim hijab rules involve covering everthing but a woman's face and hands. Skirts are not required, but it should avoid clinging to you as much as possible. This means that their modest swimsuits end up looking more like wetsuits with caps. Now, not all Muslims find this acceptable, but it seems to be a pretty viable option. And there are tighter ones that could be easier to swim in, but more controversial. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have an opinion about this swimsuit-- either it's a drowning hazard or it's immodest. It is an advancement, though, so women can be modest by their own definition, without inhibiting the lifestyle they want.

Some Muslims and seemingly most Pentecostals believe that men and women swimming together, no matter each group is wearing, is immodest. Perhaps, though, they just haven't found the right outfit!

Seventh-Day Adventists, as far as I can tell, advocate covering the thighs and shoulders. In fact, this website quote the founder of Seventh-Day Adventism as saying that women should not wear corsets, pants or skirts (because a woman's hips are not made to hold things up-- oh yeah? where do you hold you baby, your shoulders?). Women should not wear vain things, but should be clean and neatly dressed. Dresses should be floor-length, but women should also cover their legs with leggings. Perhaps the latter are older rules?

Mormons have what I think of as a uniquely American approach to modesty. For them, modesty is relative. In general, an outfit should cover Temple Garments for them to be acceptable.
Temple Garments according to
The garments shown are for men. The ones for women are similar but they do have a lower collar and shorter sleeves. Needless to say, if these rules extended to swimming, their suits would look a lot like tzniut swimsuits. However, in "special circumstances," other things are permitted. For instance, in swimming, Mormons are allowed to wear swimsuits as Americans would recognize them, they just have to be very modest versions of your typical swimsuit. This means that typical Mormon swimsuits for women are either one-pieces or tankinis.
Mormon Miss Idaho 2011
 I don't know of any other denomination that mandates different swimwear. The rest of the ones I know that are modest aren't really in to letting their women swim...
So looking at this (and throughout this little Lenten journey of mine) I have been forced to analyze my own modesty standards. Generally, I think I keep my shoulders and my stomach covered (but I don't mind low cleavage) and my bottoms (either pants or skirts) generally covered most, if not all, of my thighs. I, however, am with the Mormons on the whole modesty-is-relative. At least a little bit-- for my shoulders.
So here's my swimsuit choice. What do you think?
Pua Brand Board shorts

Friday, March 11, 2011

Can I be a Modest Feminist?

So, I meant to post this on International Women’s Day, but this took a really long time, mostly because I have so many thoughts! ☺Scroll to the bottom if you need a very short cliffnotes version. Also! If you are a dork like me, feel free to check out my links and add your own!

My Woman, when I started all this up, was very worried about how modesty and feminism fit together. Now, I'm not a feminism scholar, so I don't know all the ins and outs of it, but I am a feminist. (Before you go all Ah!-she's-a-man-eating-lesbian-after-all on me, I'm going to give you 2 quotes to exemplify my feminism.) Rebecca West once said: "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler are quoted as having said, "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

There. That is why I'm a feminist. I believe that women are people. But! The feminist ideology is more than that, I think. It's the radical notion that everyone is a person and deserves to be treated as such. This isn't very far from the Christian idea of seeing Christ in everyone and serving Christ in everyone. I am a feminist because I'm a Christian. I see Christ in women. I see Christ in black people. I see Christ in Jews. I see Christ in Muslims. I see Christ in poor people. I see Christ in queer people. I even see Christ in Fred Phelps. With difficulty.

Okay, so that defense of feminism may seem unnecessary --and perhaps it is-- but as I searched around the internet about modesty and feminism, I discovered that pretty much nobody thinks you can be modest and a feminist. Or if they do, it's because they've redefined feminism into something I don't recognize (and even that is rare).

Different Feminists’ Opinions on clothes

So how do feminists view clothes? Well, the answer to that is it depends on who you ask.
One group –that I think of as Old-School Feminists (and, I've found confirmation --and here-- that this is indeed the majority thought of Second Wave Feminism)-- insists that you can’t be a feminist if you wear revealing things. Eg. Or says that wanting to be sexy and successful is anti-feminist. Eg. The idea was revolutionary at the time-- women didn't have to shave every day or wear make-up to please their men? That kind of clothing made a statement.

Another group (in my social circle, this group is often made up of lesbians, but it is certainly not only queer people) insists you must be willing to march down Main Street naked or you’re uncomfortable with your body. You can find that attitude in this protest and this one. I'm told here and here that this is mostly Third Wave Feminism. The idea was we are sexually liberated and so we should be treated like human beings no matter what we're wearing.

Many of the above get downright obnoxious when someone else claiming to be a feminist supports something that –God forbid-- might be considered modest. (Like this rant about Burkas or this one about "the modesty movement".)

Now, the funny thing is, I like the clothes they offer on and I think blaghag’s boobquake is, at the very least, an interesting social statement, but neither of these groups’ opinions sound like mine. I like looking pretty. But I do have limits to the amount of skin I’ll show. And I’m a feminist, right? Right?

Plain(s)feminist, Naomi Wolf, and a few others would say, "Right." Apparently, this is a sub-genre of Third Wave Feminism called Choice Feminism. There is a middle ground between frump and slut. And it's important that we have that option, they'd add-- even if the fashion industry is out to get women. (Now I sound like my old dietitian who thought the fashion industry was conspiring against women. When I was 16, I thought she was crazy-- now, I think she's right.) We also should have the choice to be modest or the choice to dress sluttily or any combination of the two. Some say it's the beginning of a new Fourth Wave Feminism. Choice or Fourth Wave, it's a minority right now, but you could say that feminists are slowly beginning to understand that clothes don't necessarily make the woman.

Different Modesty Groups’ Opinions on clothes
In order to prove my point: namely, that one can be modest and a feminist, I think I shall have to look at what different proponents of modesty think about clothing. Now, one of these days I’d love to detail all the different rules—from what Mormons think is a modest swimsuit to what hijabis would consider a modest swimsuit—but I don’t have time to do that here. I’d like instead to look at women’s general ideas of why modesty is a good idea and how it should be followed in a more general sense than “These Are The Rules.”

One of the most vocal groups seems to think that dressing modestly protects a woman from the dangerous gaze –and subsequently, actions—of men. I refuse to buy this. (Catholic sources, Pentecostal sources, Muslim sources and many others here and here. I don't know what the name is. Modesty proponents don't have clearly identified "Waves" that they belong to, tragically.)
Things I find wrong with this line of thought:
1) IT’S VICTIM BLAMING!!!! It assumes that if I’m wearing a mini-skirt, I’m less of a person of value than if I’m wearing a maxi-skirt. It actually sounds a lot like’s assertion that you can’t be a feminist if you’re wearing a thong bikini.
2) It implies that men have absolutely no control over their sex drive or their actions. Ok. As someone who is attracted to women, I have to say: I don’t lose all ability to control my actions when a pretty woman walks by. On the rare occasion, I’ll lose my train of thought (okay, maybe it’s more than rare), but I still manage not to rape her… or even to have “impure” thoughts (unless awe is impure). Don’t say it’s because I’m a woman. I assure you, my sex drive functions as well as any straight male. I think we should give our men a little more credit for, you know, control of their actions.
3) It teaches our young women that they are in charge of who they have sex with, which is an ideal to be sure, but it’s not reality. And it leaves rape victims feeling guilty for having somehow caused it.
4) It teaches our young men that any woman who is dressed like X wants to have sex with them, no matter what she actually says, so “no means no” gets a lot more complicated.

I don’t think this one can be feminist, but feel free to argue with me!

Other reasons people advocate modesty are as:
  • A sign to ourselves that we value our bodies, according to this Jewish website and this Muslim one.
    • I like this one—sometimes I really need a reminder that I (and my Woman and my God) value my body. While not my primary goal for my Lenten discipline, I see this as a side-effec that could be almost an antidote for the giving-up-food aspect of Lent.
  • A sign of our devotion to God or so saith both Quaker Jane and another blog.
    • I like this one too, although I worry about it. For people who work very hard on their humility, this is probably a wonderful thing. Quaker Jane describes elsewhere on her site how she get asked about religion by total strangers. While being publicly devoted to God does encourage you to act in a way that would represent God well (I personally think this involves being kind to other people and holding hands with my Woman), it also is a fine line to walk in Christianity. I actually think it was our Ash Wednesday reading where Jesus says don’t pray in public (check out Matthew 6:1-6:20), because God sees in secret and rewards what we do in secret. When I do public acts of religiosity, I definitely worry about being a hypocrite like Jesus talks about in this passage. I guess it is all about the spirit in which you undertake these endeavors. And I’m still working on that—I think it’s a work in progress for everyone.
    • A sign of belonging to a particular religion, according to Quaker Jane again, a Muslim website and an interview with Muslim hijabis.
      • I’m not sure how I feel about this, although it seems inevitable if you’re wearing a style of modesty that is denomination-specific. I think my worry about it would go back to Matthew 6—why do I want to advertize that I belong to this faith? But I definitely think it would keep you on your toes as far as acceptable behavior goes.
      • To glorify God. At least according to the Mormons and these Catholics.
        • If you believe God requires it, this is a pretty straightforward answer.

      Are these contradictory?
      Well, here’s a radical concept:
      Neither feminism nor modesty is really about what you wear!

      Feminism is about believing that all people have the right to be treated like people. Modesty (at it’s best, in my opinion) is about valuing our bodies, showing our devotion and honoring God.

      I don’t think those are contradictory!

      Need a cliffnotes version of all of this? Both feminists and modesty proponents need to get over themselves. Not all feminists look the same and not all modesty proponents think the same, but one can still be a feminist and modest. I guess this makes me a Fourth Wave Feminist, huh? Let's get the revolution started!

      Thursday, March 10, 2011

      Day 2

      So I have a big long feminism post that I will finish eventually, but I'm on my second day and I'd just like to throw out a few observations.

      1) Living in a co-op (with men) has made this more difficult than it might be otherwise. For instance: It's 2am and I have to go to the bathroom. What do I wear down the hallway? The answer turned out to be a Senegalese pagné (pronounced pawn-yay) and a sweatshirt, but it was a hard call. One thing I love about this is that it makes me aware of God all the time-- which is awesome.
      Me and a bunch of other people wearing pagnés.

       2) I walked down the street today and so many people stopped and stared at me that I thought I'd cause a traffic jam. Now, this is Ann Arbor, guys. On campus. I've seen people walking around in fairy costumes that get fewer looks than I did today. And it's not like I was doing something weird. (For instance, the other day, I was wearing a hijab and an ambulance went buy, so I crossed myself. Understandably, someone stared at me-- obviously a little confused.) I was walking down the street in a long, brown coat, a mid-calf-length jean skirt and obnoxiously brightly-colored rainboots. My Woman rated it a 5 out of 10 on a scale of weird Ann Arbor outfits. I just don't get it...

      Sunday, March 6, 2011

      What do you all think about head coverings?

      I'm not sure how I feel about them. They are, after all, one of the few regulations in Christian scripture about clothing. (Check out 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.) However, so is not cross-dressing and I think I sufficiently pointed out in the post below that I think it's a bit of a crock (even though I plan on only wearing skirts for Lent).

      Originally, I was very against them since Paul advocates them as a way for women to indicate they are "good" and also generally submissive to men. Yuck! I have several problems with this.
      A) If I want to be "bad" in the way Paul is suggesting, it's between me and God and I don't feel the need to advertise it to the world.
      B) What man would I be submissive to, pray tell? My dad? My brother? Some husband that I could conjure up but would only be vaguely attracted to?
      C) I don't generally have a problem with submitting to one's significant other, but why doesn't the husband have to submit to his wife? Answer: God's a sexist pig.
      I don't actually think this, but I tend to come to that sort of conclusion when I look at head-coverings that way.

      The tzniut version is perhaps even worse. Men have to cover their heads all the time-- as a sign of submission to God. Women, on the other hand, have to cover their heads after they get married-- you guessed it, as a sign of their submission to their husband. Problems:
      A) Why is man always the conduit between woman and God?
      B) They're so close. I was looking this up somewhere (eep! I don't remember which source) and I read, "The object of covering one's head isn't to hide the hair from view [although bear in mind that this is a controversial opinion in Judaism], but to remind the woman that there is someone over her..." Immediately, I thought they meant God and I fell in love with the concept. What a wonderful idea to have a constant reminder that God is in charge, that we are God's hands, God's feet, God's mouths! And then they continued, "to remind a woman of her submission to her husband." Crap, crap, crappity crap. Shot down.

      And then Mary suggested going Plain, Quaker style and I found Quaker Jane.
       Now, I'm not going to go Plain for a variety of reasons that I will discuss another time. BUT! Her thoughts on headcoverings seemed rather congruent with some of mine (because, surprise! mine don't always agree with each other).
      She says the following about it:
      "For starters, it reminds me that God comes first. In my previous condition, I came first and a great concern for my and other women's position in the world came first. My feminism came first. It came before God. It came before my marriage. It came before happiness. I did not know how to trust my husband, as from my viewpoint he did not have my best interest at heart. I believed I had to have a hand in every decision that was made, indeed control most everything, or it would not be the best decision, or even an okay decision."
      Now, I don't feel the same way about all that. And I shall write a post about modesty and feminism one of these days, but today is not that day. HOWEVER! I just about swooned reading that first sentence. I do need a daily reminder that God comes first. I'm using tzniut that way for Lent, but what about when Lent is over?

      Story time:
      I work in a "dining hall" (not a cafeteria) on campus washing dishes. In order to make sure I had all the pieces of my outfit right, last Monday, I wore our uniform t-shirt with a past-knee-length-skirt, knee-high socks and a long-sleeve shirt underneath. It was hot as all get out. Also Mondays I work with someone who I don't have the nicest feelings toward. I often spend Mondays at work thinking, "Are you stupid or are you just trying to piss me off?" Not very Christ-like. Wearing all these layers, I was getting irritated a lot faster than usual and contemplated throwing dishes at him. Finally, I remembered-- the whole reason I was subjecting myself to the sweaty grossness was so I would remember to pray and be Christ-like. I breathed a lot easier after that. I'm still not sure if that guy is just stupid or trying to piss me off, but I don't hold it against him as much now.

      I wonder if covering my hair would work like that once Lent is over. Or would I become accustomed to it and not think about it any more? I just keep getting drawn to head coverings...

      On the other hand, my hair desperately needs to be cut, so maybe it's just that...

      But I have been drawn to head covering for as long as I can remember...
      And there are so many kinds!
      PS. Points if you can figure out what denomination/religion all these head coverings are from!

      I, and Hafiz, think God is pretty ok with drag

      I knew I couldn't have been the first person to have thought of this.

      Corroboration of the idea that "We are born naked and the rest is drag" by a suffi poet, Hafiz.
      The Sun in Drag, by Hafiz

      You are the sun in drag.
      You are God hiding from yourself.
      Remove all the “mine” – that is the veil.
      Why ever worry about
      Listen to what your friend Hafiz
      Knows for certain:
      The appearance of this world
      Is a Magi’s brilliant trick, though its affairs are
      Nothing into nothing.
      You are a divine elephant with amnesia
      Trying to live in an ant
      Sweetheart, O sweetheart
      You are God in

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      What God Wants Me to Wear, Part 2

      Okay, so there's a line in scripture (Deut. 22:5) that says: "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God." This is oft-quoted as why tzniut women should not wear pants. I believe a good handful of other religious groups follow this as well (think Mennonites, Seventh-Day Adventists, etc).

      Yeah... but Jesus says: (in Matthew 6:28-32) "Why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is here, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
       Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."
      Jesus asks us why we worry about what we wear. I feel like the clueless disciples. "Well, uh, Jesus, we're pretty sure God told us to..." But Jesus is presenting us with this idea that maybe we're wrong.

      So how did we go from God-vehemently-hates-women-wearing-pants-and-men-wearing-skirts to God-says-don't-worry-about-your-clothes?

      Let's look back at the Deuteronomy quote. I'm going to interpret it as the Bible saying God doesn't want us to dress in drag. In analyzing this interesting piece of scripture, I'm going to quote well-known theologian :) RuPaul, who says, "We're born naked. The rest is drag." Therefore, I'm going to extrapolate that God doesn't want us clothed. This actually might not be that far off. God created us naked and then we Fell. We Fell and were ashamed of the beautiful bodies God gave us, so we decided we needed to cover them up. If I made a masterpiece of a sculpture and gave it to you and you decided to put a blanket over it, I'd be pissed. I wonder if that's how God feels. Looking at it that way, maybe my Lenten discipline shouldn't be to follow more strict rules about clothing, but not to wear clothing at all. Unfortunately, I think that's illegal. So, I guess we should continue the analysis.

      Short of moving to a nudist colony, I have to wear clothes sometimes. What does God say about that? Well, let's check out Matthew 6:32 again. "The Gentiles run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows you need them." To me, that sounds like God sighing and saying, "Wear clothes if you must, but don't fuss about them, okay guys?"

      Oops. Amn't I doing just that? Worrying about my clothes? Then I should tread very lightly on this Lenten discipline of mine. The last thing I'd want is to turn worrying about my clothes into some kind of idol. The goal is wear these clothes and any time I'm about to worry or fuss about them, I pray. And maybe God is just shaking God's head at all this BUT, I sometimes think God must shake Her head throughout all of Lent-- like, hey guys, I gave you food, why are you ignoring it? Hey guys, you've got enough suffering on this earth, why are you inducing more of it for yourself? Who knows? If I'm wrong (and at least part of me has to be wrong, since I'm thinking conflicting things), I imagine God is just giggling and patting me on the head and murmuring, "It's okay, darling," as I fuss.